BOSTON (AP)—Baseball’s oldest ballpark met the sport’s newest innovation, and the New York Mets came away with a come-from-behind victory.
Omir Santos’(notes) long fly off the top of the Green Monster—initially ruled a double—became the game-winning homer after the first replay review in Fenway Park history on Saturday night, and the Mets rallied against Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon(notes) for a 3-2 victory.
“That’s what the replay is for,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “We could have easily gotten out of there without the two runs and could have had a loss.”
The “lyric little bandbox” lauded by John Updike as “a compromise between Man’s Euclidean determinations and Nature’s beguiling irregularities” found a way to account for technology’s latest innovation with two outs in the ninth and Boston leading 2-1.
Santos hit the first pitch from Papelbon high to left, where third base umpire Paul Nauert lost it in the lights. Nauert ruled it a double, holding the runners at second and third and preserving—temporarily—Boston’s lead.
But the umpires conferred and went into the tunnel for the TV replay, which showed that the ball bounced first off the ledge in front of the Monster Seats, then off the top of the 37-foot wall itself and back onto the field. “I felt like I was waiting for an hour after that,” Santos said.
But it was just a few minutes before crew chief Joe West came out and signaled for a home run.
“Cut and dry,” West told a pool reporter. “We got together as a crew, got the play right, and that was it.”
The Mets celebrated and the runners resumed their trip around the bases.
“They ran out as if the game was over. I said, ‘Hey, we’ve still got some outs to get,”’ Manuel said. “We have a different type of spirit on this team. A lot of times, it doesn’t show. But they’re still fighting until the end.”
The Red Sox knew it was a homer right away, but manager Terry Francona said he was “hoping against hope” that the replay would show something different. Papelbon became an instant opponent of instant replay. And Boston starter Josh Beckett(notes), who was deprived of the victory, felt the sting of a century of pitchers who see the Green Monster over their right shoulder, just 310 feet from home plate.
“You never know with that wall,” he said. “It seems like that wall grows sometimes and sometimes it seems like it shrinks. Unfortunately, tonight it shrunk a little.”
Putz got some fielding help from third baseman David Wright(notes) on a hard grounder down the line with a runner on first. Shortstop Ramon Martinez(notes), who made two errors on Friday night, stabbed Mike Lowell’s(notes) hard grounder in the hole for the final out.
Papelbon (0-1) had been 11 for 11 in save opportunities. But Gary Sheffield(notes) walked to lead off the ninth and then, after Papelbon struck out Wright and Jeremy Reed(notes), Santos hit the first pitch for his second career homer.
The late drama deprived Beckett of a victory after his longest outing of the season, in which he followed an unearned run in the first with seven scoreless innings. The Red Sox took a 2-1 lead on Kevin Youkilis’(notes) two-run single in the first, but they didn’t score again off Mike Pelfrey(notes), who left after seven.
Beckett had more trouble with his fielding than his pitching.
With Sheffield at the plate in the first, he threw the ball away for an error trying to pick Carlos Beltran(notes) off first base, allowing him to move to second. Beckett then chased Sheffield’s popup into foul territory but pulled off at the last second as third-baseman Mike Lowell slid in.
The ball dropped, Sheffield stayed at the plate and then on the next pitch singled in Beltran to make it 1-0.
Boston took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half, and both pitchers coasted until the Mets put runners on first and third with one out in the seventh. Beckett struck out Ramon Martinez and Luis Castillo(notes) lined out to center to end the threat.
^Notes: Boston 1B/OF Mark Kotsay(notes) played six innings in Pawtucket on a rehab assignment while recovering from back surgery and went 1 for 3. … Red Sox SS Julio Lugo(notes) got the day off with a day game on Sunday. … The Mets sat OF Ryan Church(notes), who left Friday night’s game with a sore hamstring, and Jose Reyes, who is day-to-day with a tendinitis in his right calf. Beltran (sore right knee) was the designated hitter for the second straight game.